Jerkinhead. A jerkinhead is a truncated gable at the end of a roof. This house in the 1700 block of South Delaware has three jerkinheads. Although the origin of the word doesn’t seem to be known, a jerkin is a close-fitting jacket usually with cropped sleeves, which may have inspired the use of the term for this clipped-off gable.
Jerkinheads are often seen on bungalows and, especially in densely packed early suburbs, they tend to make these houses less obtrusive on the landscape than they might appear with a full gable. In Indianapolis, jerkinheads are found on many 19th century revival style houses, including Stick Style, Dutch Colonial Revival and Bungalow style homes.
Connie Zeigler is president and owner of C. Resources, Inc. Connie is a preservation consultant, writer and researcher.